Woolwich Youth Centre steps up the activity level to combat the dog days of summer

One month into summer vacation, teenagers finding themselves bored with all that freedom are welcome to check out Woolwich Community Services’ Youth Centre, which boasts longer hours in the summer months and day trips next month.

Anyone from Grade 6 up to age 19 are welcome at the Youth Centre, including those who just finished Grade 5 and are heading into Grade 6 this September.

Mariah Roth, who recently joined the centre as the summer youth worker, says they’ve got lots of activities planned, including outdoor sports and movie trips on Tuesdays.

“I’m in school to be a social worker, so as soon as I saw the job posting it obviously immediately caught my attention because I definitely want to work with kids. I’ve only been here for two weeks but I already love it. The kids are so awesome, you create a bond with them. And I find it’s just a place they go to relax and have fun. We keep it a safe, fun environment here, so it’s definitely been awesome,” Roth said.

They’re planning some trips for August, including going to Bingemans, go-karting, and the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.

Youth Centre coordinator Carlina Longworth has been working at the centre for two years and says they also do spontaneous trips, like if the kids bring money and all want to go out for dinner together.

“Bingemans is usually a popular trip, so we try to promote that and get lots of youth out for that. That’s a fun day,” Longworth said.

Located in the Woolwich Memorial Centre, there’s plenty to keep them busy from XBOX Kinect to foosball to craft supplies. They’ve also got an Amazing Race challenge planned for twice a week in August.

Longworth always wanted to work with youth and her recreation background fit perfectly with the youth centre job.

“It’s been awesome. These guys started in Grade 6 when they were allowed to come and that’s when I started too,” Longworth says referring to the two teenagers hanging out there on Tuesday afternoon. “So over two years I’ve seen them grow and develop. It’s been really cool.”

Carlina Longworth and Mariah Roth are two of the friendly faces you’ll see at the Youth Centre. They’re encouraging youth entering Grade 6 up to age 19 to come out this summer and participate in their activities at the centre and scheduled day trips. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Carlina Longworth and Mariah Roth are two of the friendly faces you’ll see at the Youth Centre. They’re encouraging youth entering Grade 6 up to age 19 to come out this summer and participate in their activities at the centre and scheduled day trips. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
She says the centre’s numbers usually go down in the summer, but they see a lot of familiar faces. And once school starts back up they’ll see more kids hanging out after school, especially when the temperature drops and they can’t spend much time outside.

“It’s definitely just a place where they can go and just hang out with friends and it’s safe because you never know what’s going on in their lives,” Roth said.

Longworth says many of the youth she’s come to know come because they know their friends will be there. And even if they aren’t meeting friends it’s somewhere they can hang out and talk to the youth centre workers because they might not have someone else.

They both agree that it’s something they would have liked to have had when they were in that age range.

“There weren’t many places to hang out. I know when I was their age we’d all just hang out at the corner of our court or street. So to have a place to have activities and things to do that definitely would have been awesome,” Roth said.

It’s also a place where they can develop new interests like ball hockey or pool, which they might not otherwise get to.

“We always say come, bring a friend. They can come for the day for free. They can just come hang out, see how they like it,” Longworth said.

“They see all the things that are in there and then they usually come back.”

The Youth Centre’s annual BBQ is Aug. 4  and Aug. 5 at the Woolwich Community Services building. All proceeds will go toward the Youth Centre, which is open for the summer from 1-10 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday.

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